OSC Colloquium: Dr. Jared Males

    Thursday, November 4, 2021 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm
    Meinel 307

    Title: The Mysterious Lives of Speckles: Defining the fundamental limits of ground-based coronagraph performance and achieving them with MagAO-X


    Our ability to image extrasolar planets is limited by the spatially and temporally correlated noise source called "speckles".  Speckles are copies of the point spread function (PSF) and so mimic planet signals in the spatial domain, and correlations in the time domain cause them to average much more slowly than photon noise.  Any coronagraph system, whether ground or space-based, is ultimately limited by this noise source.  Ground-based coronagraphs have the additional challenge of atmospheric turbulence.  An adaptive optics (AO) system significantly suppresses atmospheric aberrations, but the residual errors still contribute the brightest source of speckles in modern instruments.   I will review our recent work to characterize the fundamental limits imposed by atmospheric turbulence on exoplanet detection from the ground, including the impact of the speckle correlation lifetime.  The underlying theory can also be applied to space-based instruments.  The results have implications for AO control, coronagraph design, post-coronagraph wave front control, and post-processing algorithm development.  I will then present the status of our new extreme-AO system, MagAO-X, and discuss how our team at UArizona is using MagAO-X to push towards achieving the fundamental limits.  In particular I will describe our newly funded upgrade program called "MagAO-X Phase II: The Pursuit of Proxima b" and our goal to characterize the nearest terrestrial exoplanet for the first time. I will conclude with an introduction to GMagAO-X, the follow-on instrument for the Giant Magellan Telescope, for which we have just completed the conceptual design phase.  GMagAO-X will use the techniques currently in development to characterize temperate exoplanets in large numbers.

    Speaker Bio(s): 

    Dr. Jared Males develops technologies to image extrasolar planets and search them for life.  He is the principal investigator of MagAO-X, a coronagraphic extreme adaptive optics system designed to push the limits of ground-based exoplanet imaging.  His group studies all aspects of exoplanet imaging, including opto-mechanical systems, wave front control algorithms, control theory, and image processing.  Jared received his PhD in Astronomy from the University of Arizona in 2013, and was a NASA Sagan Fellow at UA from 2013 to 2016.  Prior to joining the UA PhD program in 2008, Jared was a US Navy submarine officer, and then an analyst at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab.  He graduated from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, with a B.S. in Physics with High Distinction, has a Master of Engineering Management degree from Old Dominion University, and an MS in Applied Physics from JHU.


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